Ames Research Center, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Moffett Field, CA, researcher; University of California, Santa Cruz, assistant professor of astronomy and astrophysics.
Contributor to periodicals, including Sky & Telescope and Reviews of Modern Physics.
According to his biography on the Web site of the University of California Observatories, Greg Laughlin's research interests include the dynamics of extrasolar planets, the hydrodynamics of self-gravitating disks, stellar evolution, and the long-term evolution of the universe.
Laughlin and his coauthor Fred Adams present the theory of a universe in a state of eternal expansion in The Five Ages of the Universe: Inside the Physics of Eternity. They divide the evolution of the universe into five past and future eras, including the earlier Primordial Era, when only radiation existed, and our current Stelliferous Era, a period of star formation, galaxies, clusters, and superclusters. They predict that in five million years, the sun will die, becoming a white dwarf, and that Earth, if it survives, will no longer be habitable as the oceans boil away and the heat becomes unbearable. The Stelliferous Era will end in approximately one hundred trillion years, replaced by the cold and dark Degenerate Era, the Black Hole Era, and the Dark Era in which the universe will become totally inactive. The period they study, from beginning to end, is called a googol or squillion and is written as the scientific notation 10100.
"Adams and Laughlin have left nothing for their descendants," noted Dick Teresi in the New York Times Book Review. "They begin by telling us the birth of the universe is ‘now understood in stark rigid detail.’ This despite the admission that the closest observational data take us back no farther than 300,000 years before the big bang. This is like an anthropologist describing the cave painters of Lascaux after examining Versailles."
A reviewer for Astronomy recommended The Five Ages of the Universe, stating that "from its hot and explosive beginning the book leaves a profound legacy of a universe in unfathomable darkness and a cold, limitless future." Jeffrey Winters remarked in Discover: "As Adams and Laughlin take us from one age to the next, it is difficult not to feel that all human experience is but a hiccup in a universe charging from a bang to a whimper." While the subject matter is dense, "the authors effectively impress on interested nonscientists the implications of the universe's colossal time dimension," reported Gilbert Taylor in Booklist.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Astronomy, September, 1999, review of The Five Ages of the Universe: Inside the Physics of Eternity, p. 100.
Booklist, April 15, 1999, Gilbert Taylor, review of The Five Ages of the Universe, p. 1494.
Discover, September, 1999, Jeffrey Winters, review of The Five Ages of the Universe, p. 95.
Library Journal, April 15, 1999, James Olson, review of The Five Ages of the Universe, p. 140.
New York Times, January 16, 1997, John Noble Wilford, "At Other End of ‘Big Bang’ May Simply Be a Big Sputter."
New York Times Book Review, August 8, 1999, Dick Teresi, review of The Five Ages of the Universe, p. 6.
Publishers Weekly, May 24, 1999, review of The Five Ages of the Universe, p. 55.
Scientific American, July, 1999, Neil de Grasse Tyson, review of The Five Ages of the Universe, p. 100.
University of California Observatories Web site,http://www.ucolick.org/ (December 12, 2006), brief biography.